When we think of cruelty, we must try to remember the stupidity, the envy, the frustration from which it has arisen.
by Edith Sitwell (2011). “Taken Care Of: An Autobiography”, p.172, A&C Black

It’s crazy what you can find out on the internet. There I was writing about another ancestor of mine who was linked to Cpt, James Cook when I thought I would check out another ancestor who worked as a butler for the famous family of Sir George Revesby Sitwell of Renishaw hall, Derbyshire. Henry Moat apparently is now a ghost in one of the Sitwell’s grand houses. This is odd as he died in Whitby, North Yorkshire and is buried in his family grave in the cemetery there.

John Singer Sargent’s painting of Sitwell Family

The Sitwell family were made up of three siblings, the oldest being Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell DBE (7 September 1887 – 9 December 1964) who was a British poet and critic. Next, Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, 5th Baronet (6 December 1892 – 4 May 1969) was an English writer and wrote about his family in two volumes Left Hand, Right Hand! and The Scarlet Tree. and Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell, 6th Baronet CH (15 November 1897 – 1 October 1988) was an English writer, best known as an art critic, music critic (his books on Mozart, Liszt, and Domenico Scarlatti are still consulted), and writer on architecture. They were the children of Sir George Sitwell 4th Baronet, of Renishaw Hall and their mother was Lady Ida Emily Augusta (née Denison), a daughter of William Denison 1st Earl of Lonesborough  and a granddaughter of Henry Somerset 7th Duke Beaufort through whom she was descended from the Plantagenets in the female line. The Sitwell family roots were from Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Together, the three siblings became well-known in the literary and artistic circles in London between 1916 to 1930.

In Osbert’s books he wrote in great details about the type of person Henry Moat was as he shared many stories about him. He describes him as being in a good mood and having a liking for gaiety and late hours, but he also loved the early morning, too. When Henry walked he swung his arms as though taking part in a state procession of some sort. He always wore a bowler hat, with its large, impressive black dome. He walked with a slight nautical roll, and by his figure no less than his gait, it was plain that he wasn’t growing any thinner. He weighed sixteen stone, and it was increasing as the result of Henry’s enjoyment of Italian fare and the red wine that accompanied it.

I feel the siblings were drawn to Henry as he was much more than just a butler in their eyes, more of some sort of parent figure as both Edith and Osbert wrote about the difficult relationship they had with their own parents. Edith reacted badly to her eccentric, unloving parents and lived much of her life with her governess.

Henry Moat

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Moat, Henry 1871-1940 by Philip Carter. Henry claimed the Moats were descended from a family of Italian jet cutters the Moatti who arrived in England in the late sixteenth century. This isn’t true. The Mowat were in fact Scottish. All the research that I’ve done shows that they came originally from Wick, Caithness, Scotland. Like my name of Readman which was originally spelt without an A as the name is pronounced in Yorkshire as Redman, the Mowat might have dropped the letter W from the spelling of their surname. This might have been because of the Yorkshire accent pronouncing the name Mowat as Moat. In 1851 the census became far more detailed and surnames began to settle down to a single spelling. This was helped by the fact more people could read and write by this time.

Peter Mowat & Katharine’s son John was born in 1758 in Wick, Caithness, Scotland, and was a sailor. John then married Elizabeth Easton in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Their son, John Mo(w)at married Mary Re(a)dman (daughter of William & Sarah Brand) born 1785 in Whitby and had five children. Their youngest child was also John Moat, born 1827 and he married Jane Carter. It was their son, Henry Moat, born 1871 who went to work as a butler with the Sitwell Family.


    1. No, I finished research my family history over 25 years ago. Thinks pop up and your read back through your information.
      On a FB writing group an article about Whitby North Yorkshire came up and another writer said ‘We could be connected ‘ so I hunted out my link to Jame Cook. And then just happened to Google ‘Henry Moat’ 😂🤣 as you do.

      Liked by 1 person

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